Subject: AFP: No decision yet on UN returning to West Timor refugee camps

No decision yet on UN returning to West Timor refugee camps

KUPANG, Indonesia, April 19 (AFP) - The United Nations has yet to decide whether it will send humanitarian workers back to West Timor to help relocate 100,000 East Timorese refugees languishing in camps there, a UN official said Thursday.

"We have not yet made a decision as to whether we will return here since such a decision would have to come from the UN security coordinator in New York," N. Parameswaran told journalists here.

"So we have to wait for a decision from New York." Parameswaran, who is chief of staff of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), was speaking after Jakarta issued an appeal on Wednesday for the UN workers to return.

The UN pulled 400 staff out of West Timor in September when Indonesian-military raised and trained East Timorese militia murdered three unarmed UN humanitarian workers on the border town of Atambua.

On Wednesday Indonesia's top security minister, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said the presence of international workers could facilitate the process of resettling or repatriating the refugees.

"The government is determined to settle the refugee problem once and for all ... (and) considers that any delay in the settlement to the refugee problem will prolong the suffering of the refugees," Yudhoyono told a discussion here.

The West Timor camps are holding the last of the 300,000 East Timorese who were driven from their homes by the militia after the 1999 vote for independence from Indonesia.

But UN officials, diplomats and aid workers say the camps are still in the grip of the militia.

Indonesian authorities say they plan to begin registration of the remaining refugees on May 21, to determine which of them want to return to their homeland, and which want to stay in Indonesia.

vt-tn/kw/kma AFP

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